Southwest Airlines to announce 1st international routes?

Is Southwest set to unveil its first international routes today?

That's the subject of speculation after the carrier announced a press conference for 10:30 a.m. ET this morning. The carrier declined to specify the topic for the media event, but many industry observers expect the company to make an announcement detailing an upgraded reservations system and -- possibly -- its first international flights.

Southwest has stepped into the international market via its subsidiary AirTran, but it has yet to fly its own Southwest-branded planes to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.

The carrier has instead offered those options via AirTran, which it announced plans to acquire in 2010. The merger closed in 2011, but Southwest has had a plodding pace in absorbing AirTran. One of the chief reasons for that has been Southwest's reservation system, which lacks the capability to handle international itineraries.

Southwest has been working on upgrades that would allow it to handle such reservations and to -- eventually -- fold all of Southwest's flight operations into its own.

The Dallas Morning News points out that Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said during the airline's earnings call last week that company was "days away" from unveiling an upgraded reservation system. The Morning News notes that when Kelly was pressed on that in follow up questions, he responded by saying: "Yes sir, we are days away from revealing what our international plans are."


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